Burlington Fined $44,000 for Public Works Safety Violations | Off Message

Burlington Fined $44,000 for Public Works Safety Violations


A job site in Burlington last year - FILE: SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • File: Sasha Goldstein
  • A job site in Burlington last year
The state has fined the city of Burlington $44,000 after a surprise inspection uncovered safety violations at a Department of Public Works job site.

A Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector found during the June 29 visit that city employees had not properly shored up the walls of a trench more than five feet deep. The water division workers also left soil too close to the edge of the trench's opening, according to a memo from DPW Director Chapin Spencer.

Those errors could have caused serious injury or death, leading to three citations that initially came with a penalty of $77,000, Spencer wrote in his report. But the state downgraded one of the citations after the city met with VOSHA and made changes to its safety program.

The employee responsible for the violations has been disciplined, as have two other DPW workers "involved in a similar situation recently," Spencer's memo said. The employees were not named in the document, and the nature of the discipline was not revealed.

Spencer did not immediately respond Tuesday to requests for comment.

The Burlington City Council on Monday approved Spencer's request to use money from the city's water fund to pay off the fine. If the penalty is not paid by October 1, the city will owe the state the full $77,000, according to the memo.